OU picks up 4th straight win, 68-56, vs. TCU

Behind forward Ryan Spangler, Sooners fight of sluggish first half

Plodding through the first half, the Oklahoma Sooners were never able to put downtrodden TCU away on Saturday afternoon in Ft. Worth, Texas.

Every run by the Sooners was answered by TCU, which even led midway through the half despite starting the game in a nine-point hole and missing its first 13 shots. No. 21 Oklahoma, looking for its fourth straight win, turned to its toughest and most physical player to break through its sluggish barrier.

Ryan Spangler tied a career-high with 21 points as Oklahoma won its fourth straight game, 68-56, against TCU.

“I was expecting a really tough game,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said to reporters after the game. “TCU’s been playing everyone tough. Our guys knew that. . . . The real key was our run to end the first half. I thought we started the second half with a lot of energy and we had a lot of guys making good plays. Road wins are always hard.”

Oklahoma (16-7, 7-4 Big 12) closed the first half on a 10-0 run and opened the second on a 7-0 spurt, but TCU pulled within six points with 13:49 to play.

Spangler scored inside twice during the ensuing 10-2 run to put the game, which featured a 15-point lead for Oklahoma, out of reach.

“They got it inside on me and were making some plays early,” Spangler said. “So we kept going back to that and if they collapsed we would throw it back out to our shooters.”

Spangler scored in double figures for the eighth straight.

The Sooners will play Iowa State on Monday in a game that could put either team within shouting distance of Big 12-leading Kansas, which was upset on the road against Oklahoma State on Saturday.

Spangler, who is shooting 24-for-30 during the Sooners’ win streak and imporved his Big 12-leading 60.6 percent shooting season, finished with just five rebounds but had four blocks. Buddy Hield, the Big 12’s leading scorer, had 16 points on a 4-for-13 shooting performance. Isaiah Cousins added 11 points, six rebounds and four assists.

TaShawn Thomas scored eight points but missed the end of the game with an eye injury.

“He got hit in the eye, but I don’t know anything more at this point,” Kruger said.

Oklahoma committed 10 turnovers in the first half and finished with 17, the most by the Sooners since a season-high 22 turnovers against West Virginia in a 21-point loss. In a battle of top defenses though, Oklahoma was by far the better team.

The Sooners came into the game averaging 37.3 percent field goal defense, which was the exact same percentage as TCU. Both ranked in the top 10 in the country.

TCU shot just 31.5 percent.

"I thought our energy picked up defensively,” Kruger said. “They hurt us badly on the offensive boards all day. During that run, they didn’t get any (offensive boards) back and that was the key.”

During the Sooners' four-game win streak, they are shooting 49.8 percent from the field while holding opponents to just 31.6 percent.

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